Skip to main content

Betsy Block

Make Mama Look Good

A Look in the Mirror

A friend of mine who's an amazing sign painter made magnetic bumper stickers for my car that say "" I get a lot of questions about the magnetics, but last week a woman drove up to me and asked if that was my "business." I must have looked confused because she went on to ask if I was a personal chef, a perfectly reasonable assumption based on the name Mama Cooks. What she didn't know is that these days, this mama far prefers eating to cooking. This one's for her (although if you see this, I'm sorry it's not a four-course meal delivered to your door, sister):

When you're the Queen of Making Do, it's pretty easy to cut corners and still make great food - at least, about 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent is when tempers flare, fights happen and clothes get ruined.

Like when we were making the Steak from Tony Maws, owner of Craigie Street Bistrot. (This would be the royal We; actually, BD was in the kitchen doing some light prep work and I was upstairs getting a sweatshirt. I really do intend to make each and every one of these recipes, but sometimes life intervenes. And sometimes BD just beats me to it - not that I'm complaining.)

Of course we would only have time to marinate the steak for four hours instead of overnight; unfortunately, that was a given. But we still had to pure the spices, even if we were giving them short shrift. How? We'd recently bought what's since become my favorite kitchen toy: a hand-held immersion mixer. It's perfect for times like this. When I walked into the kitchen, though, BD said, "There's a problem. The spice mix is splattering everywhere."

"Oh, it just needs to be immersed," I said cockily as I grabbed the blender from him, tilted the pan so the liquid would pool in one end, and promptly splattered the wet spice mix all over my until-then unusually clean sweatshirt. "Guess you'd better find the Shout," BD said smugly as he got out a tall jar and pured the spices in it without a single drop escaping.

Sometimes, when I think everyone else is causing all the problems around here, I realize there's really just one person I need a break from: Myself.

Note: Next time, we'll definitely marinate this overnight, as the chef suggests, so it's infused with more flavor. Still, even with just four hours of marinating, this turned out fantastic. It was hot, hot, hot. (As in smoky, spicy, sexy.)

Red Chile-Marinated Skirt Steak

By Tony Maws, Craigie Street Bistrot

5 pounds of skirt or hangar steak

For Marinade:
6 New Mexican dried red chiles (rehydrated)
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 cloves
10 allspice berries
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 cup canola oil
cup soy sauce
salt to taste

Grind all of the spices and seed the chiles. Put all marinade ingredients into a blender and puree. Rub on skirt steak and let sit overnight. Grill to desired level of doneness.